Seduced by an abundance of
holiday cards showing rosy-cheeked, smiling families perched atop snowy mountains, I decide it’s time to teach the kids
how to ski.
7 a.m. I gulp a cup of coffee, grab coats,
hats and mittens, and hustle the children to the minivan. We drive half a mile
before turning around to retrieve boots
for one of the boys, at which point the
dog slips out the front door. We chase her
around the block, screaming, no doubt
endearing ourselves to the neighbors.
8: 45 a.m. After three stops along the
highway—one for gas, one for breakfast and one for the bathroom (six minutes after leaving the restaurant, where
our youngest insisted he didn’t need to
use the facilities)—we finally pull into
the resort. Families mill around, looking
pink-cheeked and merry in their brightly
colored jackets. This is going to be great!
9: 45 a.m. Having successfully navigated a long line to purchase lift tickets
and having signed legal waivers implying
injury and/or dismemberment will necessarily ensue from our chosen leisure
activity, we get into another long, snaking line to rent equipment.
10: 30 a.m. Finally, everyone is wearing ski boots and clutching skis and poles.
It’s time to hit the slopes! One of my sons
says something. “What?” I ask, turning to
look at him. My skis, which are resting on
my shoulder, swing around with me and
whack another child of mine on his head.
I’m beginning to understand why we had
to sign those waivers.
10: 40 a.m. Apparently my son was
saying he needed to use the bathroom.
We shuffle with all the grace of Star
Wars Stormtroopers to the lodge and
get in yet another line. I crack a Star P A
Wars joke and the kids stare at me
blankly. Feel old.
11: 15 a.m. Having finally reached
the top of the bunny slope, I give the
kids a few basic instructions. I decide
not to reveal that on my first-ever
ski trip in the ninth grade, I absentmindedly swung my feet just before
disembarking the chairlift, causing
the tips of my skis to get caught in
a mound of snow and flipping me
off the chairlift face-first. The operator had to shut down the lift and haul
me up while my high-school classmates
11: 30 a.m. “It isn’t as easy as it looks,”
I warn the kids. “It took me awhile to
even be able to stand up, so don’t be
embarrassed if…” They promptly whiz
down the mountain while I struggle to
keep up, falling twice.
11: 45 a.m. “Should we head to the
real slopes?” I ask. “I’m hungry,” one of
my kids complains.
Noon. As we lurch toward the lodge,
I tell myself that it’s good we’re getting
an early lunch. That way, we can beat
12: 20 p.m. Still in line to get lunch,
I stifle the urge to shoplift a half-dozen
Snickers bars and race back to the slopes.
All that stops me is the knowledge that
the grandmother manning the cash register could tackle me in the time it took
me to “run” there in my boots.
1 p.m. We’ve finished lunch, and I ask
the kids, “Are you sure you don’t need to
use the bathroom?” The little one somberly shakes his head. I’m pretty sure
1: 30 p.m. Finally back on the slopes!
Well, not technically. We need to get in
1: 45 p.m. I breathe in the fresh air,
glance around, and realize I’ve lost a
child. I wonder if I could just substitute
someone else’s for the rest of the afternoon. They’re all a collection of bulky
coats and hats and runny noses, so who
would even notice the difference?
2-4: 30 p.m. We manage a few runs in
between stopping to exchange the boots
one of my kids decides are too small. I drop
a (new, expensive) glove off the chairlift
after admonishing my children to hold on
to their belongings. The kids move on to
the intermediate slopes while I flail behind,
shouting instructions they neither hear nor
need. I recall that I don’t actually like skiing,
and curse those holiday cards that made me
5 p.m. My gloveless hand is frozen.
My legs are bruised. My teeth are chattering. We head back to the rental counter to return our skis, and I try not to
calculate the cost per minute of our time
zipping and tumbling down the slopes.
Next time, I might as well empty out our
bank account and set the bills on fire.
At least I’d be warm. n
Sarah Pekkanen’s latest novel is The Best
of Us (Washington Square Press, 2013).
She can be reached at sarah.pekkanen@